After the September 1996 elections, IFOR successfully accomplished its mission of implementing the military aspects of the General Framework Agreement for Peace. However, it was clear that much remained to be done on the civil side and that the political environment would still be potentially unstable and insecure.
On 25-26 September, after the Bosnian elections, at Bergen, Norway, NATO Defence Ministers came to the conclusion that the Alliance needed to re-assess how it might continue to provide support for the establishment of a secure environment after the end of IFOR's mandate.
In November and December 1996, a two-year consolidation plan was established in Paris. On the basis of this plan and the Alliance's own study of security options, NATO Foreign and Defence Ministers concluded that a reduced military presence was necessary to provide the stability essential for consolidating the peace. They agreed that NATO should organize a Stabilization Force (SFOR). SFOR was activated on 20 December 1996, when the IFOR mandate expired. The role of IFOR (Operation Joint Endeavour) was to implement the peace. The role of SFOR (Operation Joint Guard / Operation Joint Forge) was to stabilize the peace. The difference between the tasks of IFOR and SFOR is reflected in their names.
SFOR - role and mandate:
Based on UN Security Council Resolution 1088 of 12 December 1996, SFOR was authorized to implement the military aspects of the Peace Agreement as the successor to IFOR. Like IFOR, SFOR operates under Chapter VII of the UN Charter (peace enforcement). SFOR has the same rules of engagement for the use of force, if necessary to accomplish its mission and to protect itself.
The principal mission of SFOR is to contribute to the safe and secure environment crucial for the consolidation of peace. Its specific tasks are:
• To deter or prevent a resumption of hostilities or new threats to peace.
• To promote a climate in which the peace process can continue to move forward.
• To provide support to civilian organizations within its capabilities.
Initially, SFOR's size was around 32,000 troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina - approximately half that of IFOR. SFOR was able to concentrate on the implementation of all the provisions of Annex 1A (military part) of the Peace Agreement, i.e.:
• Stabilization of the existing secure environment in which local and national authorities and other international organizations can work.
• Providing support to other agencies.
SFOR command structure:
The Stabilization Force has a unified command and is NATO-led under the political direction and control of the Alliance's North Atlantic Council. Overall military authority is in the hands of NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe. As was the case with IFOR, every NATO nation with armed forces has committed sending troops to SFOR. Iceland provides medical personnel. However, SFOR is more than a NATO operation. Non-NATO forces have been incorporated into the operation on the same basis as NATO forces, taking orders from the SFOR Commander through their respective multinational Brigade Headquarters. Contributing non-NATO countries are represented by liaison officers at SHAPE. They have been involved in planning operations and the process of generating the necessary forces through the SFOR Coordination Centre. At NATO headquarters, contributing non-NATO countries are consulted and are given the opportunity to express their views on NAC decisions. [15]

[15]- Based on http://www.nato.int/sfor/docu/d981116a.htm
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